Millions At Risk As Killer Storm Sweeps Across Africa

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Written By Mahmoud Sarvari

Cyclone Idai is fast becoming one of the biggest humanitarian disasters ever as millions of people in Southern Africa are impacted by the flooding and devastation left by the storm.

Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi bore the brunt of the cyclone which landed from the Indian Ocean at the port city of Beira with winds of more than 100 mph.

The city is one of the largest in the region, with a population of more than 600,000.

President Filipe Nyusi says the cyclone was “a humanitarian disaster of great proportion”.

More than a 1,000 victims are feared dead as the country clears up after the battering, with 100,000 or more people needing food, water and medical care in Beira alone.

Images from the air show a 30 mile stretch of land was submerged as the swollen River Buzi overflowed. Some flood waters are as deep as 20 feet.

International rescue

Provincial governor Manuel Rodrigues said: “It’s very sad and very complicated, given what we saw when we flew over the area. We saw people besieged and asking for help.

“They were on top of their roofs made up of zinc sheets. Others under flood waters. We saw many people.

“We can only imagine that they had been there for more than two or three days, without food and without clean drinking water.”

In Zimbabwe, 100 people were killed and hundreds more reported missing.

The United Nations is co-ordinating the rescue. Workers estimate 1.7 million people lived in the path of the cyclone in Mozambique, while another 920,000 were affected in Malawi. In Zimbabwe, around 20,000 homes were destroyed

Cholera fears for survivors

The UN cites Cyclone Idai as probably the worst ever weather related disaster in the southern hemisphere.

As the clear-up continues, the fear is water-borne diseases like cholera may spread due to the lack of sanitation and difficulties in supplying fresh drinking water to remote communities along impassable roads.

“We are talking about a massive disaster right now where hundreds of thousands -in the millions of people – (are) potentially affected,” said Jens Laerke from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). “We need all the logistical support that we can possibly get.”